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Dear Editor:
In response to Mr. Anderson's letter, who believes that Mexico only has to get rid of its current citizens by having them immigrate to the US, and replace them with immigrants from the rest of Latin America in order to increase its prosperity. Ditto, India. What's wrong with this picture? (And, while these countries officially refuse much immigration, they too have illegal immigration, just as the US does.) Stable economic and political institutions are far more important to creating and maintaining prosperity than immigration. See, for example, an article in today's (March 22) Washington Post about how the Mexican economy, despite NAFTA, despite billions of dollars in remittances from its workers in the US, still lacks fundamental insitutions such as widely available public education and financing for housing and small businesses, and still has widespread political corruption and an unwillingness of government to reduce political risk (which would attract investment to the country). In fact, disparities in income between rich and poor have actually increased rather than decreased since NAFTA. Is immigration going to change these problems? Actually, it's extremely likely that immigration of poorer and abundant labor from the rest of Latin America will increase wage pressures, inhibit unionization of workers, and increase pressures on the most able workers to leave--workers who might, just might, be able to help bring about necessary political and social changes.

Actually, on second thought, I do agree that in certain circumstances immigration may well increase prosperity in countries such as Mexico and India. Those circumstances would be the immigration to these countries of educated, skilled, or affluent immigrants. Of course, there is the issue of how these countries would attract and keep such immigrants, Mexico is already discouraging the immigrants it already has (American retirees who were s___ed by its property laws, the ecotourist farm which was taken over by indigenous militants while the authorities stood by). These are the same sorts of problems which also prevent its own citizens from creating prosperity--solve them and there is no or little need for immigration.

Ali Alexander



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